MTLE Test-Taking Strategies
The Minnesota Teacher Licensure ExaminationsSM (MTLESM) were developed in alignment with Minnesota regulations and content standards for teachers, including the Minnesota Board of Teaching Rules and Standards. The MTLE are designed to measure candidates' proficiency levels in basic skills, pedagogy, and specific content areas, based on Minnesota policies for each field.
The best preparation for the MTLE is to have studied consistently throughout your time in college. When you are preparing to take the test, the best preparation is to study systematically and effectively. Remember that you are not only preparing for a test but also reviewing content that will be an important part of your responsibilities as an educator.
The information here is designed to help candidates taking the MTLE:
- understand the structure and content of the tests;
- plan an effective course of study; and
- learn strategies for successful test taking.
For information regarding who must take the MTLE and which tests must be taken, visit the Minnesota Board of Teaching website at http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/EdExc/Licen/ .
Understanding the Structure and Content of the Tests
The skills and knowledge assessed by the MTLE are described in the test frameworks (MTLE Elements) available on the MTLE website. To view or print the test frameworks, select Prepare, select your test, and click on "MTLE Elements."
The key elements of the test frameworks are the objectives, which are aligned with Minnesota regulations and content standards for teachers. The objectives are organized for structural and reporting purposes into subtests and subareas. The MN NES Essential Academic Skills and Elementary Education tests each consist of three subtests, while all other content-area and pedagogy tests consist of two subtests. Each objective within each subtest and its appropriate subarea is further defined by a number of descriptive statements. These components are described below.
- Subtests. Each test consists of two or three subtests. Each subtest assesses the knowledge and skills of identified subareas. Each subtest is independently scored.
- Subareas. The test framework is organized into multiple subareas. The subareas structure the subject matter for both test preparation and score reporting. Together, the subareas indicate the main areas of knowledge and skills important to the job of an educator in Minnesota.
- Objectives. The objectives are the key elements of the test framework. They are intended to be broad, meaningful statements of the knowledge and skills important to the job of an educator in Minnesota schools. The objectives define the range of knowledge and skills to be measured by the test.
- Descriptive statements. The descriptive statements further define each objective. A descriptive statement provides more detailed information about the content of an objective by including examples of the types of knowledge and skills covered by the objective. A descriptive statement is intended to provide only examples of the subject matter of an objective and does not cover the entire range of knowledge and skills represented by an objective.
- Test questions. The test questions (multiple-choice questions or constructed-response assignments) are designed to measure specific content defined by one of the objectives within each subtest. The following example illustrates the relationship of a multiple-choice test question to its corresponding objective and descriptive statement in the MTLE Mathematics (Grades 5–12) framework.
A sample test framework is shown. Callout arrow points to Subtest: Mathematics (Grades 5–12) Subtest 1. Callout arrow points to Objective: 0006. Analyze linear and nonlinear functions and their applications.
Callout arrow points to Descriptive Statement: Bullet point applying linear and nonlinear functions to model real-world situations and solve problems using a variety of graphic and algebraic methods.
Callout arrow points to Test Question: The entrance to the tunnel has the shape of an arch
that is modeled by a quadratic equation with roots of negative 2 and 5 and a
leading coefficient of negative 1. Approximately how high in feet is the tunnel entrance at its highest point?
A. 8 feet. B. 12 feet. C. 14 feet. D. 17 feet.
Planning Your Course of Study
Step 1: To assess your degree of preparedness to take the MTLE, read the test objectives for the subtest(s) you are preparing to take.
The test framework is the only source that specifies the information covered by the MTLE.
- Read through all test objectives for each subtest you are taking to get a general picture of the material the subtest covers.
- The objectives form the foundation and focus for the test questions. The descriptive statements within each objective provide examples of possible content covered by the objective. Read each objective and its descriptive statements carefully for a more specific idea of the knowledge and skills you will be required to demonstrate on the test.
Step 2: To improve your test-taking skills, answer the sample questions.
After you have become familiar with the test objectives, try to answer the sample test questions for the subtest(s) you are taking. The sample multiple-choice questions were developed in conjunction with the questions that appear on actual tests and are the best example of the types of questions used on the actual test. Thus, answering these questions will give you valuable practice in answering questions like the ones you will see on the actual test. After reading a question, you may want to reread the objective to see how the question is aligned to the objective. This may help you understand what items associated with particular objectives might look like.
After answering a sample question, read the correct response. If you answered the question incorrectly, you may need to do some additional studying of the content covered by that objective.
Step 3: Develop a study plan to focus your studies.
- Identify the most appropriate resources. These may include your basic textbooks from relevant courses; your class notes and other assignments; textbooks currently in use in Minnesota elementary and secondary schools; and publications from local, state, and national professional organizations.
- Develop a study plan schedule. Consider reviewing a book on study skills development or studying with other people who will be taking the test by forming or joining a study group.
Suggested Study Method
One study method that many students have found to be effective is "PQ4R," or "Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, Review." After reviewing the objectives and descriptive statements for a particular subtest, locate appropriate study materials such as textbooks; then apply the six steps of the PQ4R method as described below.
- Preview: Scan the section headings and subheadings of the chapter or article you wish to study. Read the introduction or overview section as well as the summary section. This initial step can provide a good foundation on which to build your knowledge of a topic or skill.
- Question: Based upon the appropriate MTLE test objectives and your preview of the study materials, think of specific questions to which you would like to find answers as you study. Write these questions down and use them as a guide as you read.
- Read: Read through the chapter you have selected. Adjust your reading speed as needed; some sections may take less time to read than others. Also, study any figures, tables, or graphics when you come across references to them in the text. This helps to keep each piece in context.
- Reflect: As you read, think about the examples and descriptions provided in the text. You may also think of examples from your own experience that are related to what you are reading. Reflective reading is active reading; by interacting with what you read, you may better understand and remember the content.
- Recite: When you complete each section of the text, check your understanding of what you have read. Can you answer the questions about this section that you wrote down before you started? Do you need to reread the section or some parts of it? Monitoring your progress by asking yourself these types of questions may help you identify areas you understand well and areas that you will want to study further.
- Review: After you have finished reading the text, you may want to check your understanding of the content by reviewing your questions for the whole chapter. Can you answer your questions without referring to the text? Reviewing your questions for a chapter immediately after you finish reading it, as well as later in your study plan schedule, can help you retain and apply what you have learned.
When you have finished studying material for one subtest this way, move on to the next subtest, if you are taking more than one.
Whether you use PQ4R or some other study technique, the key to success is to become familiar with the material you are studying. Predict what the content will be, ask yourself questions about it, paraphrase information aloud, relate the information to other things you know, review and summarize what you have learned—become involved in your studying.
Strategies for Success on the Day of the Test
Review the following strategies to help you do your best when taking the MTLE.
- Follow directions.
- Read, listen to, and follow all test directions.
- Read carefully.
- Do not try to save time by skimming directions or by reading the test questions quickly. You may miss important information and instructions.
- Determine the "best answer."
- Your response to each multiple-choice question should be the best answer of the alternatives provided. Read and evaluate all four answer choices before deciding which one is best.
- Guess wisely.
- Your multiple-choice results will be based on the number of questions you answer correctly. Attempt to answer all questions. You will not be penalized for incorrect responses; it is better to guess than to leave a question blank. If you are unsure about a question, use your knowledge of the content area to eliminate as many of the alternatives as you can; then select from the remaining choices.
- Designate your answers carefully.
- Your responses to the multiple-choice questions will be scored electronically. It is very important for you to designate your answers carefully. You may wish to use remaining time at the end of the test session to check the accuracy of your work.
- Respond to writing assignments fully and clearly.
- If you are taking the MN NES Essential Academic Skills test or any of the World Language and Culture tests, be sure to read and respond to each part of the constructed-response assignment(s). It is important for scorers to be able to understand your responses. Also, make sure that you have recorded your responses to the constructed-response assignments as instructed.
After the Test
The MTLE is part of your preparation to enter the profession of teaching. With the help of these test-taking strategies, you should be able to use the time before and during the test wisely. There are also a few things you can do after the test that may be helpful to you, whether or not you have passed the test.
First, it may be useful to review the list of objectives you used during your studying. Look over that list and mark the objectives that represented the most difficult content for you on the test. Whether or not you pass the test, you may wish to enhance your own knowledge with further study in those areas.
Also, when you receive your score report, you will learn which subareas within each subtest were more or less difficult for you. Devote further study to the content of the subareas in which your performance was the weakest. Remember that all the objectives that were tested have been identified as being important to the job of an entry-level educator in Minnesota.